I always assumed Idaho was full of rural towns sprinkled throughout vast fields of farmland. Perhaps that's why I've kept Idaho under my radar instead of prioritizing it for a visit. Shame on me!
Although Idaho has a reputation for a mouthwatering spud, there is so much more to discover in the state. Recently, we were invited to a wedding in Idaho and flew directly into Boise. The downtown vibe has a small city feel, but packs a punch with its unique boutiques, vibrant restaurants, and accessible green spaces.
Brad and I made the most of our limited time with the following walkable stops. The itinerary below is jam-packed, but will hopefully help you get a taste of Boise with only a day to hang out. Let's go!
Who doesn't want to start the day with bacon? Here you can order a bacon flight with five sweet and savory kinds arranged in shot glasses! We opted for the El Paso breakfast burrito with cheesy scrambled eggs, potatoes, salsa, sour cream, and crunchy bacon. My only regret was arriving too early for the bacon Bloody Mary which is served after 10am.
Do you smell that around the corner? Well, it's the aroma of freshly baked donuts perfect for any sweet-tooth craving. Split a vegan hipsterberry yeast-raised donut for a sugar buzz sure to please. The interesting flavors change weekly with locally sourced ingredients. YUM!
Julia Davis Park
Take a stroll in this beautiful park nestled along the Boise River. Catch a glimpse of tubers relaxing on the water, admire the rose garden, and check out the views from the Ninth Street Bridge. This greenbelt is an ideal place to walk off your breakfast(s)! Nearby is the Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial, Boise Art Museum, Idaho State Museum, and Idaho Black History Museum.
The main vein of downtown is 8th Street. Admire the architecture as you discover the many cafés, alfresco restaurants, and eclectic stores. Nearby is the Basque Block neighborhood; an area of Boise preserving the ethnic heritage of a culture originally from the Bay of Biscay in southwestern France and northern Spain. Pick up a bottle of wine and share a plate of pintxos (tapas) at The Basque Market.
Paddles Up Poké
Wake up your tastebuds with an affordable lunch full of color, crunch, and spice! Choose from one of the signature concoctions or create your own. The possibilities are endless with gluten-free sauces and vegan alternatives. Fill your bowl, burrito, or salad with spicy tuna, creamy avocado, or sweet mango. I would be coming to this restaurant weekly if I lived in Boise!
Freak Alley Gallery
Cross the street to visit an outdoor graffiti area with dazzling murals. Established in 2002, the space is continuously evolving with new images left by artists showcasing their spray paint skills. Musicians often line the alley for added entertainment. Be sure to peek around doorways and corners for hidden words of wisdom.
Idaho State Capitol
The classical revival architecture and sandstone exterior of the capitol building is modeled after the United States Capitol. Completed in 1912, the building features an impressive rotunda with a sundial directly below on the first floor featuring minerals found in the state. A nearly 6ft high gilded bronze eagle tops the dome.
A popular dinner choice in downtown Boise is a farm-to-table restaurant serving delectable American dishes. Our picks were the lightly battered asparagus fries paired with ranch and roasted huli huli chicken served with fluffy mashed potatoes and baby carrots. The delicious food stands up to the hype!
End your tour of the city on a sweet note. Warning! Picking from the daily flavors of custom crafted ice cream will be a challenge since everything looks tempting. Feeling boozy? Pair your selections with a local beer or wine flight. My favorite creamy creation was the strawberry shortcake.
Boise is a charming city with a lot to offer residents and tourists alike. The friendly pulse of the area invites visitors to relax and explore at their own pace...even if it's only for a day.